Around a fifth of working adults worked exclusively from home between mid-December and 3 January, according to the Office for National Statistics.
This was an increase of 14% on the previous reporting period, driven by new government recommendations to work from home where possible. A surge in coronavirus cases due to the new Omicron variant led to the change in guidance, which came into force on 13 December.
The latest round of figures from the ONS also showed that 16% of businesses experienced an increase in cancellations over the same period, going up to 45% in the accommodation and food service industries.
Around one in eight businesses experienced a shortage of workers during this time, rising to 35% in businesses with 10 or more employees, the ONS said. Two-thirds of these businesses said employees were working extra hours to compensate.
The ONS figures come as employers report difficulties due to staff absences, particularly in the public sector.
Figures published in early January showed that almost 25,000 staff in NHS trusts in England were absent through Covid-19 sickness or having to self-isolate, while more than 90 care home operators declared a “staffing emergency” after more than 11,000 workers were absent for the same reasons.